About Us

Overview

Respira’s high efficiency AOS Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) technologies deliver dry powder drug products to the lung more effectively than other DPI technologies. Using proprietary formulations of “technology branded” off-patent molecules, Respira is aggressively pursing a pipeline of pulmonary disease indications that will benefit from the AOS-DPI targeted lung delivery capability.

Management Team

Bob Curtis

President & CEO

Bob has an extensive background and network in the medical technology field from his 30+year career as a technologist, senior executive, founder and operating manager of multiple life science technology startups, and as a venture capital accelerator/incubator manager and investor. He was an early CEO of Aerogen, Inc., a subsequently public, early-stage metered dose inhaler company, and has served as CEO and/or Board member of a total of one (1) public and ten (10) venture capital financed start-ups. He was the co-founder of two successful San Francisco Bay Area medical technology venture capital accelerator/incubators that enabled the startup of 6 companies over a 5 year period. Previously, as CEO of a $200 Million medical device subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., (PFE) he had responsibility for multiple buy-side transactions, including 3 companies that he combined to create the Schneider angioplasty subsidiary of Pfizer, which was sold to Boston Scientific for $2.2 Billion. Bob is an inventor or co-inventor of 13 issued US and foreign patents and holds BS Chemical Engineering and MS Mechanical/Bioengineering degrees, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Hugh Smyth, Ph.D.

Consulting Chief Scientist

Hugh is the co-inventor of the founding technology for Respira and thought leader in pulmonary drug delivery science.  He is currently the Bergen-Brunswig Fellow and Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics at the University of Texas at Austin, College of Pharmacy and also  is an Adjunct Associate Scientist at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in Drug Delivery from the University of Otago in New Zealand, in collaboration with GlaxoWelcome, USA.  Following a post doc and two years as a Research Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina, he took a faculty position at the University of New Mexico (2005) and moved to Texas in 2009.  Hugh is the Editor in Chief of the journal Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy. He has published over 55 scientific peer-reviewed manuscripts, has 18 patent applications pending, and is editor of three books and author of numerous book chapters. In 2007, Hugh was awarded the 2007 AAPS New Investigator Award in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technologies, and also the 2007 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association New Investigator Award.

Matt Franklin, MBA

CFO

Matt has been Chief Financial Officer of numerous venture-backed companies including most recently serving as CFO of myoscience for six years. Some other companies he has worked with include ACLARA, AFx, GenoRx, Biomarker Pharmaceuticals, Neostim, BioLumin and iScience Interventional. Over the past 25 years Matt has helped these companies raise over $250 million of capital, manage operations and in several cases go through the first few years of global commercialization. Matt received a BS in Business from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Santa Clara University. He is the former Program Chair of the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneuers’ Venture Capital Breakfast Club and a former Executive Fellow at Santa Clara University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).

Board of Directors

Brian Birk

Managing Partner, Sun Mountain Capital

Brian has over 20 years experience as an operating executive and investor. He co-founded Sun Mountain Capital, a boutique private equity firm focused on the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, in 2006. Since that time Sun Mountain has grown to be one of the largest PE firms in the region, and currently manages direct investment funds and fund of funds vehicles. Prior to forming Sun Mountain Capital, Brian was a Vice President and Director of Private Equity at Fort Washington Capital Partners where he helped the firm establish and manage a number of private equity direct investment funds, secondary investment funds, and fund of funds programs. Brian was a founder or senior executive at several high profile start-ups, including MetaWeb (acquired by Google), Applied Minds and BiosGroup. In addition, he has held a senior manager position at the Boston Consulting Group and finance manager positions at General Electric and GE Capital. Brian has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a BS in economics from Carleton College. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association.

David Blivin

Managing Partner, Cottonwood Technology Fund I & II

Dave is co-founder and a managing director of Cottonwood Technology Fund. Cottonwood Technology Fund is focused on early/seed stage companies and brings with it an extensive network to additional capital and strategic customers/partners. Dave has experience working with the national labs and the research universities throughout the southwest at the leadership and research head levels. Prior to co-founding Cottonwood Technology Fund, Dave founded and served as Managing Director of Southeast Interactive, the first and largest information technology-focused fund based in the Southeast. While at Southeast Interactive (SEI), Dave was responsible for raising three funds totaling over $175 million. He was directly involved in fund raising and exit transaction events totaling in excess of $1 billion across the SEI portfolio and generated cash on cash returns on his directed investments of approximately 4X. Dave holds a MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Andrew R. Clark, Ph.D.

Vice President & General Manager, Aerogen Pharma

Andy is a recognized expert in respiratory drug development, with 30+ years experience in managing the development of some of the pharmaceutical industry’s most novel inhalation products; Pulmozyme (the first inhaled protein), Exubera (the first inhaled insulin) and Tobi Pohaler (the first inhaled dry powder antibiotic). His experience includes: CTO and site head at Novartis’ pulmonary drug development site in San Carlos, CA, Chief Technical Officer at Inhale/Nektar Therapeutics, General Manager and a Director of Bradford Particle Design, Head of the pulmonary product development group at Genentech, and Section Head of Respiratory Physics at Fisons Pharmaceuticals. In 1993 Andy received the young investigator award from the International Society for Aerosols in Medicine, in 2003 the TT Mercer award from the American Association for Aerosol Research and in 2012 the Charles Thiel award from Virginia Commonwealth University's Respiratory Drug Delivery organization; each for excellence and outstanding contributions in inhalable materials and aerosol science. Andy holds a Ph.D. in aerosol science from Loughborough University of Technology in the U.K.

Bob Curtis

President & CEO

Advisors

Richard Channick, M.D.

Chair Medical Advisory Board

Rich is the Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension and Thromboendarterectomy program at Massachusetts General Hospital and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He began his internship in medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1984 and went on to complete his residency there. In that same year, Rich became a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.  He later completed his fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care in 1991 at UCSD Medical Center.  In 1988 Rich was awarded title of American Thoracic Society Research Fellow and he became a Clinical Instructor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at UCSD. He was promoted to Assistant Professor of Medicine and was again promoted in 1998 to the Associate Professor of Medicine and became the Professor of Clinical Medicine of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit at UCSD in 2006.  Rich became the Director of the Pulmonary and Thromboendarterectomy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2009.  He currently serves as Chair of Scientific Leadership Council, Pulmonary Hypertension Association.  Rich received his BA from Connecticut College and later received his MD from Temple University School of Medicine.

Andrew R. Clark, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor

Andy is a recognized expert in respiratory drug development, with 30+ years experience in managing the development of some of the pharmaceutical industry’s most novel inhalation products; Pulmozyme (the first inhaled protein), Exubera (the first inhaled insulin) and Tobi Pohaler (the first inhaled dry powder antibiotic). His experience includes: CTO and site head at Novartis’ pulmonary drug development site in San Carlos, CA, Chief Technical Officer at Inhale/Nektar Therapeutics, General Manager and a Director of Bradford Particle Design, Head of the pulmonary product development group at Genentech, and Section Head of Respiratory Physics at Fisons Pharmaceuticals. In 1993 Andy received the young investigator award from the International Society for Aerosols in Medicine, in 2003 the TT Mercer award from the American Association for Aerosol Research and in 2012 the Charles Thiel award from Virginia Commonwealth University's Respiratory Drug Delivery organization; each for excellence and outstanding contributions in inhalable materials and aerosol science. Andy holds a Ph.D. in aerosol science from Loughborough University of Technology in the U.K.

John Dixon, B.Sc. C.Chem., F.R.S.C.

Scientific Advisor

John has 38 years experience in Pharmaceutical Research & Development. He has led discovery programs for Respiratory, Inflammation, Cardiovascular and Gastrointestinal disease areas. John is the inventor of one marketed cardiovascular drug and of several other compounds that reached advanced stages in Clinical Development. He spent 18 years at Astra Zeneca, serving as VP Preclinical R&D and VP of Drug Discovery at AstraZeneca R&D, Charnwood with responsibility for 400 scientists working on Respiratory and Inflammation where he delivered over 30 new drug candidates to the clinic. Prior to Astra Zeneca, John was Head of Medicinal Chemistry for 20 years at Fisons.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Member of its Council Board. He is also a Member of the American Chemical Society and has served on several professional and academic advisory committees.  John has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Leeds. Recently he was awarded an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Loughborough.

Adaani Frost, M.D.

Medical Advisor

Adaani is a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and serves as an active staff member at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and The Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston Texas. She completed training in pulmonary, Critical Care medicine and a lung transplant fellowship at the Toronto Hospital System, Toronto, Canada, and McGill University, Montreal Canada. She served as medical director of lung transplantation from 1990-2002 and subsequently as director of the Pulmonary Hypertension unit at Baylor from 2000 to 2013 where she continues to consult, treat teach and undertake clinical research. She is a member of the American Thoracic Society, American Society of Transplant Physicians, and the American College of Chest Physicians. Additionally Adaani is a reviewer for Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Transplantation, Circulation and CHEST. She served on the Scientific Leadership Council of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association for 9 years. She has lectured extensively in the U.S. and Europe on lung transplantation, end stage lung disease, and pulmonary hypertension. Her main interests and expertise are in the field of end stage lung disease, specifically pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary transplantation.

Erwin Gelfand, M.D.

Medical Advisor

Erwin is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. He is Professor and Vice-Chairman of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, also in Denver. In 2011 Erwin was named as one of America's Top Doctors by US News & World Report and Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd. His research interests include signal transduction in lymphocytes and mast cells, a murine model of asthma and immunodeficiency diseases. His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. He has authored more than 700 articles. He is the recipient of the Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics, the McLaughlin Foundation Edward Gallie Visiting Professorship of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Lifetime Achievement Award from National Jewish, and the Honorary Fellow Award from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Erwin is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the American Association of Immunologists, the Clinical Immunology Society, the Society of Pediatric Research, and the Society for Clinical Investigation. He serves on several editorial boards. Erwin received his medical degree from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He completed his internship training at Montreal General Hospital, and his senior residency training and fellowship in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Moreover, he completed his research fellowship in Immunology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Alain J. Romero, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Medical Advisor

Alain has 25 years experience in Clinical Research & Development, Medical Affairs and Business Development. He has led clinical programs in areas of drug delivery, anti-infective, neuroscience, cardiovascular and respiratory medicine resulting in the successful filing and launches of new pharmacological treatments. Alain is currently V.P. Ex-US Medical Affairs at Relypsa, Inc. From 2009 to 2015 he served in a variety of positions at Actelion U.S., most recently as V.P. U.S. Medical Affairs where he was responsible for the U.S. launch of Opsumit, a drug for treating Pulmonary Arterial Hyptertension. Previously, Alain spent 18 years at Pfizer, Inc. with a range of responsibilities from early clinical research on licensing assets to late stage development, domestically and internationally, before taking medical affairs responsibilities. Prior to joining industry, Alain practiced at the Rennes teaching hospital, was a Research Fellow at Ciba-Geigy and served as a consultant for several companies and on FDA mandated audits. He was an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Rennes and the Miller Medical School in Miami. Alain is a member of the American Thoracic Society, the European Society of Cardiology and ACCP. Alain graduated with a Pharm.D. from the School of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Rennes and with a Ph.D. in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Rhode Island.

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